Sunday, August 16, 2009

Judging The Real City Limits

The real city limits? Not when you see “Leaving Podunk,” or “Thank you for visiting us.” You change from city to neighborhood when you run out of parking meters. When it’s ok to park without paying a tax to the city for what it considers a privilege but you consider a right. When the police won’t tow your car from in front of your house.

The parking meter was invented in 1935 by Carl Magee in Oklahoma City. He had no idea it would get him in trouble with, of all people, God. It’s not that The Supreme Being, Creator Of The Universe, Uncreated And Eternal Father Of All happened to leave his heavenly chariot at an expired meter. Nothing so simple.

It seems that the very first parking meter ticket resulted in the first court challenge to metered parking enforcement. Rev. C.H. North of Oklahoma's City's Third Pentecostal Holiness Church had his citation dismissed when he claimed he had gone to a grocery store to get change for the meter. [Wikipedia]

In theory, meters are not supposed to produce revenue for the cities which use them. The idea is to keep valuable parking spaces in constant availability for vehicles on a short-term basis. That does not convince people at our two colleges who accurately notice the parking enforcement folks spending more time there than elsewhere.

Parking meters are so ingrained, like lower-back pain, that we just live with them as part of life. Have residents of any city voted them out of existence?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've often wondered about parking meters. Sure they generate revenue, but what is the NET revenue after expenses? First there is the cost of the meters. Then there is the inevitable repairs. Then there is the cost of the vehicles (including gas, oil, insurance, etc) of the transportation needed to cover the territory to write tickets (and don't forget the cost of printing the tickets). Then there is the salary and benefits of those individuals who write the damned things out. And let's not forget the costs associated with tracking the things to make certain they are paid.

My question is, does the net justify the inconvenience and sheer anger getting a ticket generates.

Is there a real bang for the buck?

August 18, 2009 9:12 AM  
Blogger Tom Carten said...

Some years back, one of the PE coin collectors told me there were 660 meters in the city, for what that's worth in revenue.

I also remember that during the reign of Mayor McNuts, there was quite a period of time when the tickets just piled up with no action and I think there was some noise made about the loss of revenue by those who disregarded them.

August 18, 2009 12:23 PM  

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